My Hair

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What's This?

Ok, so by now you know that I have locs.

My locs are not a political statement. Neither are they a style trend.

They simply are a choice to be chemical free and authentically me. I say this because, from the moment I started my locs, I for the FIRST time in my life felt so damn beautiful and… confident.

I could be rocking a weave- which I don’t think I have ever done, but certainly straightened hair, and just feel like “ughh” on the inside.

I hated the smell of cooked flesh after getting my hair relaxed with chemicals, the effort to maintain what made me feel uncomfortable and quite frankly didn’t really afford me the opportunity to be very creative in styling because for most the easiest and cheapest way to style mid length hair without a wig or weave was to comb it back in one.

In fact, many times I had to because employers stipulated that that was their preferred style and if I wanted to continue getting a paycheck, then I should subscribe to that preferred style too.

(You better believe I quit that shit).

Anyways, some years now have passed since I began to locs my hair and in that time there has been a seamless integration of locs into my being the same that my eye and foot are.  I see them as a part of me in the same way that I see my skin. Mind you, not a definition of me, but a part of me. So, I don’t define myself through my locs or my skin. I define myself as human. Point. Blank. Period.

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As I have stated previously, my hair in Turkey got me lots of attention,  because if seeing an actual black person- not a TV or movie subject, in  live and in living colour was monumental, then seeing one with hair that they had not often or, in many cases,  even seen in the media, was down right astonishing.

But then comes the irony.

While people in the West have only recently, though many still don’t, accepted natural hair and its derivatives, it is still looked at as a kind of counter generational X aesthetic. This, as a result of a centuries old disdain for kinky hair because it didn’t stand up to the European standard of beauty.

Mind you, Turkish people, man, woman and child, response to my locs has been unanimously endearing.

“Cok Guzel!”

“Very beautiful!”

They are so mesmerised by it in ways that I just don’t understand. They consider it to be the most beautiful hair that they have ever seen.

Mind you, I don’t have access to a locstician here; so many times my hair is not re-twisted or styled- a condition that, I believe, shows my hair’s beauty.

Not for Turkish people. The more nyabinghi looking my locks, the more beautiful it is to them.

Even though, their reaction is refreshing given its unexpected antithetical privileging of European beauty, it is not necessary.

I don’t feel defined by my hair even when other people choose to.

Photo taken and edited by Petra.

East Meets West

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Petra In The Middle East
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